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Look good, feel better

Updated: 2012-08-20 13:59
By Gan Tian ( China Daily)

Look good, feel better

Chinese corporate types do not seem to have time to build up a proper wardrobe, so Xia Hua decided to help them get better dressed. Gan Tian finds out more about her game plan.

Olympic gold medalist Tian Liang dons a traditional Chinese robe, walks to the center of the runway and strikes a pose. It is rare to see the former Chinese diver dressed in such formal attire.

He recently took part in a fashion show held in Beijing's Lancaster House just hours before the Olympic opening ceremony, parading in clothes from Chinese fashion label, Eve de Cina. The fashion show was part of the China Business Summit.

Besides Tian, gymnast Yang Wei, violinist Lu Siqing and director Wang Chaoge were among the models. Naturally, with such a strong lineup of heavyweights, the center of attraction was on the models, more than the garments.

Look good, feel better

Apart from arts and sports personalities, the program also featured A-listers in the business world including chairman of Lenovo's parent company Legend Holdings Liu Chuanzhi, China Merchants Bank's president Ma Weihua, and founder and CEO of New Oriental Education &Technology Group Yu Minhong. It attracted various British and Chinese experts and businessmen from different industries, including branding, design and architecture.

When Xia Hua, chairwoman of Eve Group, was invited to participate in the China Business Summit early this year, she wanted to organize something that would impress the guests. It was about the same time she brought her label to the London Fashion Week.

Xia then decided to hold a similar fashion show at the summit but with a difference - instead of professional models, she invited personalities to the catwalk.

Eve de Cina's collections come in somber colors of brown, blue, black, gray and white. Most of the men's overcoats are inspired by Mao suits, with standing collars and Chinese knot buttons. Pants are never skin-tight, but loose and light. Women's coats tend to be layered, and Eve de Cina also designed a line of qipao-inspired skirts.

Xia says most of the garments are made from silk and linen, which are very comfortable. It also illustrates the traditional Chinese idea of harmony between man and nature.

"Since the event was designed for a business summit, Eve de Cina designers did not focus on creating elaborated garments, but tried to design clothes that would fit a Chinese businessman's image," Xia says.

For example, designers created a very Westernized white shirt for Legend Holdings chairman Liu, but added a loose overcoat for him. Every button, according to Xia, is made from nutshells.

"This is designed to illustrate Liu's lifestyle. He is very relaxed, and knows how to enjoy life," Xia says of Liu, who is also a personal friend.

When Wang Chaoyong, chairman of China Equity Group, goes on stage, he holds an oilpaper umbrella and wears big black-framed spectacles, looking every bit like a traditional Chinese scholar.

Xia says China's businessmen have better fashion sense now - they no longer fit the stereotype of oily complexions and beer bellies.

"They are actually very sophisticated. They have their own styles and attitude toward fashion," Xia says.

From her observation, the change has only happened in the past two decades, in tandem with the growth of the Chinese economy.

For example, New Oriental's Yu, another good friend, is very picky when it comes to sportswear because he is an active equestrian. But he does not wear very expensive watches as he treats them only as a tool to tell the time.

Xia, who graduated from China University of Political Science and Law in 1991, started her career as a teacher.

While teaching, she conducted research on China's businesses and discovered that there is a gap in the market - no one is designing formal wear for China entrepreneurs. In 1994, Xia quit her job and started Eve Group to fill the gap.

She says businessmen generally do not have time for fashion.

To help them, Xia, who considers fashion industry as a service field, decided to bring her design team to them.

She recalls bringing her designers to the airport to take Liu's measurements for a suit before he boarded a plane.

"China's enterprisers are playing more important roles in the world's stage. I feel a sense of satisfaction and gratitude to be able to make them look better," Xia says.

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